One of FC Kansas City coach Vlatko Andonovski’s concerns going into Thursday night’s match was the potential for some lingering chippiness between the two squads.
After all, it was the second time in less than a week that the Blues would meet the Western New York Flash, and the first ended in a one-goal victory for FC Kansas City on the road.
It turned out Andonovski was right to be concerned as the game quickly turned physical.
After seven yellow cards, FC Kansas City’s night ended in a 0-0 draw in front of 1,847 fans at Swope Soccer Village. It was the first draw of the season for the defending National Women’s Soccer League champions, who improved to 3-2-1.
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“It was an aggressive game, but you have young players who are full of energy on one side, and there were some on our side as well,” Andonovski said. “In the end I’m glad that it all finished well, and there weren’t any bad injuries or anything like that.”
The physicality hit its peak in the 82nd minute when Shea Groom fell, got back to her feet and was pushed to the ground by Flash goal keeper Chantel Jones. Groom was down for several minutes and attended to by trainers. The play resulted in the game’s sixth yellow card. Another caution was assessed moments later when Lynn Williams came in late to tackle Blues’ goal keeper Katelyn Rowland.
Offensively, the first half was similar, with the Blues only recording three shots from Yael Averbuch. The big difference was on the defensive end, where the Blues limited the Flash to only two shots after allowing 14 the first time around.
Rowland, who was making her first professional start in the place of Nicole Barnhart, collected it easily. The UCLA graduate was the 17th pick in the 2015 National Women’s Soccer League College Draft.
Andonovski said that the team wanted to give Barnhart a break and Rowland said she had known that she would start for the past two days.
“I thought she made some big saves for us and made some good decisions with the ball,” Andonovski said. “I am very happy, and she definitely has a future in this league.”
It was the fourth straight shutout for the Blues.
The Flash were also playing with a backup goalkeeper after starter Sabrina D’Angelo subbed out in the 15th minute. She collided with FC Kansas City forward Liz Bogus, who returned.
The offensive struggles continued into the second half, where each team recorded just three more shots.
Lee’s Summit graduate Mandy Laddish also got her first professional start. She played 90 minutes and had one shot.